Canada Dubbed a ‘Sharing Underachiever,’ Ranks Among Top of World in Smartphone Penetration

Mary Meeker presented her infamous annual Internet of Trends report at D11 conference this week. This year’s report highlighted among many things the impact of emerging markets on internet growth, mobile and tablet momentum and confirmed wearable technology as our next technological cycle.

Meeker’s report began by taking a look at the 2.4 billion global internet users and illustrated its 8% growth from last year was mostly due to emerging markets, China and India in particular. She identified 15 countries, including the US, which added the most users from 2008 to 2012 and were in aggregate responsible for nearly 73% of new internet users worldwide. Canada did not rank as one of these fifteen.

Canada made the list of “Sharing Underachievers,” having one of the lower percentages (15%) of survey respondents who indicated they share “everything” or “most things” online.  Canada and the US both ranked well below the world “sharing” average and were far behind countries such as Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia whom were reported to have over 50%.

Where Canadians fell behind in sharing they seemed to make up in smartphone penetration as Meeker reported that 63% of Canadian subscribers or 19 million Canadians have smartphones, a 21% year over year growth from 2012 (which is in line with the world average).

Canada ranked within the Top 30 countries based on total smartphone subscribers in 2013 coming in at #18 above Egypt, Hong Kong and Sweden but well below the US (#2) and China (#1). However, if we were to rank these countries by smartphone penetration as a percentage of total subscribers, we would find that Canada is far ahead of the pack, positioned within the top three above the US and China and just under Japan and Korea.

One of the more powerful conclusions Meeker draws in her trend report this year is that smartphones, although growing aggressively, are still in their early stage. To start, there are only 1.5 billion smartphone users compared to the 5 billion mobile and phone users worldwide. But where we clearly see that mobile is in its infancy is when we look at mobile traffic compared to global internet traffic where, although growing steadily at 1.5 times per year, mobile is still only 15%.

Tablets, on the other hand, are growing at a much more rapid rate. Meeker illustrates that the iPad showed three times the growth of the iPhone in the first 12 quarters from their launch and that tablets have already surpassed desktop PCs and notebook shipments just three years from this products introduction into the market.

But it’s in wearable technology where Meeker sees things headed as part of our technological evolution. Meeker predicts that “everything computing” will come into its own as soon as 2014 while smartphones and tablets are still early in their own cycle. The emergence of wearable tech so early on breaks the traditional 10-year pattern of new technology to market that started as far back as the early 1960s. This unusual pattern could potentially mark the start of a more rapid pace of innovation.  

For anyone who is in the technology space, this 117-page report is a must read. Meeker’s ability to illustrate data and draw conclusions is unprecedented and acts as a great guide as to where we are now and where we are headed on our digital journey.

You can find the full presentation here.